Articles Posted in Estate Planning

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed an increased focus on legacy planning because it has highlighted the need to make sure that your estate plan is in order. Besides the fact that more people are realizing the value of adequate estate planning, other advantages like all-time high estate tax exemptions make this an attractive time to engage in estate planning, whether that means creating your plans or finalizing estate planning documents. This article reviews some helpful strategies you should follow to make the most of estate planning.

# 1 – Determine Your Net Worth

The best step to start estate planning is to assess your net worth. Fortunately, it’s often easy to quickly calculate your net worth by adding up the estimate of the value of all of your assets and then subtracting the total of your liabilities. The value of calculating your net worth is that after you’ve determined this value, you will need to assess if your estate will be liable for federal estate taxes. You should also determine if your estate could potentially be subject to inheritance tax.

Each year, the news is full of stories about high-value celebrities who pass away without adequate planning and as a result, have assets that end up tied in lengthy and costly legal battles. While many people have estates smaller than well-known celebrities, estate planning is critical for these individuals. After all, many people see value in passing on assets and helping family members. While people often realize the value in estate planning, a common mistake is made in failing to establish any type of estate plan. 

While everyone should create an estate plan, it’s understandable that people delay creating them. After all, estate planning almost always involves considering the terms of your death, which can be a difficult thought for many people to consider. Despite the potential excuses, if you pass away or become incapacitated without an estate plan, your estate can end up experiencing undesirable results. This article reviews some critical reasons why you likely need to create an estate plan.

# 1 – Articulating Your Goals

The pandemic has created substantial challenges for many people and disrupted countless facets of daily living. Low-interest rates and depressed asset values, however, have created an ideal situation for estate planning. If you’re interested in planning for the future, there are some unique estate planning strategies that you should consider utilizing. This article reviews just a few of the most potentially helpful techniques that you should consider using during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

# 1 – Annual Gift Tax Exclusions

This amount refers to the amount that a person can give away each year without being subject to taxes. Currently, a person can pass $15,000 in assets tax-free to any person in any one year. This amount applies to how much can be given to one individual, which means that a person could make an unlimited number of gifts below this amount to various people without being subject to taxation.

People in second marriages often are placed in the difficult position of balancing the wellbeing of their spouse with the needs of their children. Deciding what estate planning strategies to utilize to care for both spouses from second (or additional) marriages and children can be challenging. In the hopes of guiding you through this situation, this article reviews some important issues to consider about estate planning during a second marriage.

# 1 – Comingling Assets

By the point that many people enter second or subsequent marriages, they’ve acquired some amounts of assets. Consequently, spouses must decide whether to combine these assets or keep them separate. While people who want to make sure a new spouse receives assets might decide to commingle assets, people who want to designate assets for children from a previous marriage or relationship might decide to keep assets separate.

Following his passing on January 23, 2021, Larry King’s widow remains locked in a dispute with the late celebrity’s son concerning the distribution of King’s assets. While estate battles are often challenging, this case is particularly complex for several reasons. One, a divorce was pending between Larry King and his widow. Additionally, King’s widow alleges that she recently discovered the late celebrity had a “secret” bank through which he gave over $266,000 to his son.

On February 10th, Larry King’s son filed an ex parte application to become the special administrator of his father’s estate. In support of his argument, King’s son submitted a holographic will that’s dated two months after King filed for divorce in 2019. King’s more formal will, however, names his widow as executor of his estate. King’s widow also argues that the late celebrity didn’t act like he wanted a divorce and that the couple had gone to counseling.

Much consideration has been given to Larry King’s holographic will. The one-page document is dated October 17, 2019, and states that Larry wants 100 percent of his funds to be divided equally among his five children and that the will should replace all previous writings. King’s widow argues that even if this document is found to be valid, it will change little. King’s widow also argues that during the last few years of his life, King was highly susceptible to outside influences, and at the time he executed the holographic will was of questionable mental capacity. As a result, King’s widow requests the court to reject Larry King’s son’s petition to be appointed special administrator and to deny admission of the holographic will. 

Assisted living facilities provide elderly individuals with a stepping stone between independent living and the more intensive care provided at nursing homes. Elderly individuals can receive assistance with things like cooking, cleaning, and hygiene at assisted living facilities while still maintaining personal independence. 

Deciding whether your loved one would benefit from an assisted living facility, however, is a complex process. As a result, this article reviews just some of the most critical factors that should be reviewed when deciding whether your loved one should be placed in an assisted living facility.

# 1 – Size

With the implementation of the Biden administration in the country, various changes are likely to occur including several related to estate planning. One change involves a reduction in the estate tax exemption while a second revision to estate planning law is an elimination of the basis step-up for inherited property. 

While these changes are likely to occur, it is difficult to both predict what repercussions this change will have as well as when these changes take effect. To better prepare people interested in creating successful estate plans, this article reviews some critical details to understand about these approaching changes.

Preparing for the Elimination of Basis Step-Up

No one likes thinking about what will happen when their health begins to decline or what that person’s loved ones will do following their death. Failure to engage in adequate planning now can leave your loved ones in an undesirable situation and can also greatly increase the chances that these individuals face anger and confusion after you pass away. 

You can help to avoid these undesirable results by taking sufficient actions while you are still able to do so. To hopefully push you towards making the appropriate estate planning decisions, this article reviews some of the most critical estate planning decisions that you should make today.

# 1 – Appoint an Executor

In the 2020 case, In the Estate of Mayberry, a Texas court ruled that the common-law wife of a deceased individual who died interstate lacked standing to remove the deceased’s daughter as an independent administrator. 

The court’s ruling was based on the perspective that the deceased’s daughter was not an “interested” party following a settlement agreement between the daughter and the deceased’s common-law wife to voluntarily release all of the daughter’s rights in the estate.

Under the terms of the agreement, the daughter agreed to accept $2,000 as “consideration” for the settlement and release of all claims to any part of the deceased individual’s estate. The daughter later argued that she did not release her right to receive an inheritance from the estate but had only released “claims” against the estate. The daughter argued that her right to receive an inheritance from the estate was not a claim against the estate. 

The estate planning dispute that occurred following Prince’s death in 2016 has arisen again after the Internal Revenue Service determined that Prince’s estate is worth approximately $163 million or twice what Prince’s estate representatives reported on his estate tax return. This difference resulted in approximately $39 million of penalties and interest being placed against Prince’s estate.

This discrepancy is not the first time that the estate of a deceased celebrity has been undervalued. For example, following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, representatives claimed that a likeness of Michael Jackson was worth $2,105. The artist’s fortune had dropped substantially in the years before his passing as a result of child molestation claims. Michael Jackson’s estate was also reported to be insolvent with assets estimated to be worth $236 million with debts of approximately $500 million. The Internal Revenue Service, however, later disagreed and valued Michael Jackson’s likeness at approximately $435 million. Michael Jackson’s estate later disputed this valuation and the case is still pending.

What happens next with the valuation of Prince’s estate will be decided on by the United States Tax Court. This article reviews just two critical lessons that everyone should understand about the valuation of estate assets.

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